The beginning of full coverage of my holiday, starting atv the beginning with the journey to Tseria and the rest of that day.
Yes folks, after yesterday’slittle offering I am now able to start the story of my Greek holiday in earnest, and my usual logical fashion I am beginning at the beginning.
THE JOURNEY TO TSERIA
The flight to Kalamata (nearest airport to my parent’s house in Tseria) takes off at 5:40AM (the return flight leaves Kalamata at 12:00 Greek time, enabling the same crew to do both flights), which means that for a public transport user who lives in Norfolk the only way to get to the airport is to travel down the night before. I did this, arriving at Gatwick as planned just after 1AM, and making my way via the automatic monorail to the North terminal, where I waited landside until the EasyJet check in desks opened just after 3AM. An uneventful passage through security and I was safely airside and had about 90 minutes to wait for gate information to appear on the screen. I had had a beer landside, and now airside I had a bagel and a coffee while waiting.
There were equally few dramas boarding the plane. I had an aisle seat, which meant no chance of seeing anything through the windows (they are too small to be of use unless you are in a window seat) and also that I had to get up more often than would have been the case had I been in a window seat.
I had had the forethought to equip myself with plenty of reading matter. We landed at Kalamata fractionally ahead of schedule, a gain that was more than lost to slow baggage handling at that end. My parents collected me in their hire car, a nice sensible Skoda Citigo, very economical on the fuel, and suitably robust for handling rural Greek roads (which are much better than they were when I visited Greece in the early 1980s, but still a fair way from being describable as ‘good’).
Inspite of a sleepless night I managed to get through the day without napping and went to bed at a sensible time, following a meal at the new taverna that has opened in the village. It was good of its kind and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Introducing what will be a series about my holiday in Greece.
I am just back from a week in Greece, mainly in places without internet connections. I have huge numbers of photos to edit, so to keep things going for the moment I am presenting a selection from across the week, plus the return flight, on which I had a window seat.
A couple of easy problems on brilliant.org that have generated considerable controversy, and some butterfly pics of my own.
A couple of this weeks puzzles on brilliant.org have generated considerable controversy, so I am going to share them with you as a prelude to the butterfly pics. Both puzzles are actually very simple, and I will provide solutions and explanations some time on Friday.
PUZZLE 1: DR FRANKENINE
Here is a screenshot of the first puzzle:
PUZZLE TWO: FUEL TANK
Here it is:
These are from Saturday and Monday. In addition the ones I have photographs of I have seen one other species, mainly white but with flame coloured wingtips but not yet been able to photograph it.
The second post in my personal series about #autisticspecialinterests.
Welcome to my second ‘special interests’ post for the month of May. The first, which set the scene can be seen here. The first post dealt exclusively with London, where I grew up. This post looks wider, although it still deals with events from before I was diagnosed. NB – undiagnosed means just that, not diagnosed – it DOES NOT mean “not autistic”.
This overlaps with the first post, because I visited St Petersburg in 1991. The two week visit I made to that city in 1991 was significant in many ways – it was there that I learned to eat a more varied diet, because I was just mature enough to appreciate that it was a choice between eating what was served or not eating at all and make the best of things. Also, because the family I was staying with were living very close to one of its stations I gained a considerable acquaintanceship withe the St Petersburg Metro, and also experienced the trolleybuses and trams that were a feature of daily life there.
Other than being horrendously overcrowded the St Petersburg Metro was a significant improvement on the London equivalent – a far more frequent service, and no delays. Also the underground portions were much deeper than in London, with often two colossally long escalators (far longer than any London equivalent) between the platform and the surface. This was my first major experience of public transport anywhere other than London.
GOING SOLO 1: SCOTLAND 1993
My first solo holiday took place in the summer of 1993, when I travelled to Scotland for two weeks. I travelled all around Scotland in those two weeks. As well as some seriously scenic journeys on mainline railways (I experienced both the lines the head towards Skye among others) I also made the acquaintance of the Glasgow undeground system (a single, circular route).
This holiday was a splendid experience overall, but a mere curtain raiser for…
A SCANDINAVIAN HOLIDAY
This happened in the following summer., Equipped with a rucksack and a two week rail pass for Norway, Sweden and Finland I started by taking a plane to Gothenburg. From there I travelled north, pausing in Stockholm. From Sundsvall I temporarily abandoned trains to take a boat across to Vaasa in Finland. From Vaasa I headed for Helsinki, and then the longest single journey of the trip, to Narvik, the most northerly railway station in the world. I continued my northerly exploration by bus as far as Tromso, before switching to boat for a journey along the coast to Hammerfest, the northenmost town in Norway. I varied my route back by taking a bus from Hammerfest to Alta (a mistake, this place is the Nordic equivalent of Brandon, only with even less appeal). Back in Narvik I selected a bus to Bodo, Norway’s other northern rail outpost. This decision cost me a night spent on the sgtatiopon platform at Bodo before I could head south to Oslo. From Oslo I headed east to Stockholm, and my last journey of the holiday (other than the flight home) was from Stockholm to Gothenburg.
Not having previously explored any foreign public transort systems in this kind of detail I was highly impressed. Although there are many ways in which Nordic public transport is a vast improvement on British I note a few things in particular:
Comprehensiveness – although the terrain in these countries is much more difficult than anything in Britain pretty much anywhere of any size has some sort of public transport connection.
Integration – there is not much duplication between bus and train routes. The buses tend to cover the routes that the trains do not. The only small flaw I noted in that first visit to these countries was that en route from Helsinki to Narvik we had to disembark at Haparanda on the Finnish side of the Finland/ Sweden border to transfer to Boden on the Swedish side for the last leg of the journey to Narvik, and even that was handled efficiently.
Reliability – never once in these two weeks, nor in my more recent trip to Sweden, did I encounter a service not running precisely when it was supposed to, and there has never been a two week period in my lifetime when one could be in Britain, travelling by public transoort most days, and get that kind of service.
FUTURE POSTS AND PICTURES
My next post in this series will look at public transport in various cities that I have experience of. Here to end are some public transport themed pictures…
Thoughts onthe new bus service between King’s Lynn and Fakenham one week in.
I have now done one work week using the new Lynx Bus 49 for the journeys, the withdrawal of Stagecoach from King’s Lynn now being an accomplished fact (apart from the 505 to Spalding, most of which route is in Lincolnshire). This post covers my week at work as well as detailing my thoughts about the new services.
Setting off from my flat at 6:45AM I was at the bus station in good time for the bus that I needed to catch at 7:00. The bus arrived and departed in good time, and arrived in Fakenham at 7:49, as indicated by the timetable (unlike the unlamented Stagecoach their schedules include some slack, so that a traffic jam does not always mean running behind schedule). As it was warm enough that my workplace would definitely be bearable, and I had a lot of imaging to do and little time in which to do it I decided to go straight there and get stuck in early. I commenced proceedings by finishing off the badges on boards as images of these were needed for the catalogue, and then got to work on the cigarette cards, and managed to image the first 50 lots of those as well, before closing time, and my departure for the library, to do stuff there until I could catch the bus home (the service is very infrequent at present). I have already shown some images from this day’s work in a previous post. The bus back duly arrived and set off exactly as it should (a double decker for the evening run btw), and there were no significant delays en route.
Again no issue with the journey out. Tony’s Deli stall was still being set up when I headed to work, so I got ready to start the day, and then popped back out to make my purchases there, before returning to get stuck into work. I did the loose badges (imaging them in batches of six to save time) for the first of the two days of badge sales, before once again focussing my attention of the cigarette cards, the last lot of the day being lot 166. Another visit to Fakenham library to fill in time at the end of the day, and once again home on a bus that ran to time.
After another uneventful journey in I imaged some militaria for the first day of that sale, reverted to cigarette cards until I had imaged the last album to have been numbered up (ending at lot 294), at which point I started imaging badges on boards for the second day of that sale.
It was warm and sunny when I locked up at work, and also of course a Friday, so I headed for The Limes and some liquid refreshment taken in the outside seating area. I had entertained hopes of finding a locally brewed craft ale, but given the actual options settled for Hobgoblin (still a very decent drink). The bus back was significantly late, but the still left Lynx with a score of 5 out of 6 for punctuality on the week – something that Stagecoach had not approached in a very long time.
THE LYNX BUS 49
The buses themselves are clean and comfortable, the drivers are friendly, such services as there are by and large run punctually. The trouble is that there are so few services on the new route. I might, particularly in winter, see if I can use my tickets on the route via Wells, which ultimately gets to King’s Lynn by way of Hunstanton. The prime disadvantage of this route is its length (doing the journey by that route would take about two hours on the bus. However, Lynx have stepped up to the plate in difficult circumstances, and their service standards are much better than Stagecoach. The cost of tickets is greater than on Stagecoach as well. I believe there remains a possibility of the 48 route, which currently terminates at Pott Row being extended to join the A148 and then on to Fakenham.
The first in a series of posts about #Autisticspecialinterests that will be appearing here during May.
Here as promised is the first of a series of posts I shall be doing about my special interests. I am starting with public transport, and in this post I shall be referring to events that took place long before I was diagnosed as autistic.
GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL AND THE BIRTH OF A SPECIAL INTEREST
I was a patient in a child psychiatric unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital for over a year in the early 1980s. The trigger for the illness that put me there appears to have been a bout of chickenpox. For the first half of my time there I was an in-patient, at the hospital 24/7, and then when they deemed it safe for me to sent home at nights I was a day patient. Although I cannot remember a time when trains did not interest me, it was during this period that I would say that my special interest in public transport was formed.
My family moved to London in 1979, when I was four, and I have a London Underground map from that time:
Now, here is an edited version, highlighting the two key stations:
Tooting Bec was our local station, just about a mile from our house, while Russell Squareis the station for Great Ormond Street Hospital. My father would take me there in the mornings and pick me up in the afternoons, using London Underground. We took some very bizarre routes, as my fascination grew, which sometimes led to my father getting awkward questions from ticket inspectors (yes folks, in those days London Underground had on-train ticket inspectors).
TEENAGE YEARS – GOING SOLO
In later years I was able to explore on my own, and when I was in my early teens the child rate for a one-day travelcard was only 90p, so I would often go out on a Saturday and explore London transport in detail (I used various local railway lines as well as the Underground, though in those days I did not make much use of buses). It was also in this period that I discovered the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden.
A big moment for me was the opening of The Docklands Light Railway (I travelled on it on its first day of operation way back in 1987, and it was a huge buzz to be there at the start of a new development in public transport). In particular I first developed the method of visiting Greenwich described in this post on www.londontu.be as a teenager, and since the DLR was then pretty much brand spanking new I claim to be the pioneer of that method.
Like most who have been regular users of it I came to despise the Northern Line, and later in my teenage years it was a thing with me to make my excursions without using the Northern line (this meant starting and finishing at one of various railway stations which were walkable from home – Tooting, Streatham Common, Streatham, or Streatham Hill). A frequent finish to my excursions was to take the Hammersmith & City line to Hammersmith, get an eastbound District line train to Earl’s Court and then cross the platform to get a Wimbledon train, finally changing to railway train to Tooting.
At the same time as I was exploring public transport in London to the full I was also learning more about its history and development.
Very late in my teens I became a regular commuter, because after finishing at my local comprehensive I decided to resit my Chemistry ‘A’ Level and do the first year of Maths and Physics ‘A’ Levels at Richmond Upon Thames College of Further Education, whose local station was Twickenham, two stops west of Richmond. I had two regular routes there, either travelling in my mother’s car as far as Baron’s Court (the nearest station to the school she was teaching at in that period), District to Richmond, train to Twickenham, or from home, walk to Balham (about a half-hour walk, perfectly manageable for an 18 year old), get a train to Clapham Junction and change for another train to Twickenham. The fastest trains over the Clapham Junction – Twickenham section were those going to Reading, which did it non-stop. Those trains were also the only ones that still had manually opened and closed doors (two choices folks, either slam the thing, making a monstrous crash, which most people did, or learn, as I did, how the catches worked so that one could shut the door quietly).
When I revisit this series, probably at the weekend, the story will move away from London, as I did, and will indeed go international. To finish for today, here are some old pictures of Tooting Bec Station, taken from the book Bright Underground Spaces:
Setting out my stall for May, including a forthcoming series of posts about my #Autisticspecialinterests
April is behind us, so I am going use this post to set out my stall for May. As a lead up, here is a screenshot of a tweet by Autism Mom:
A NEW SERIES SPECIFICALLY FOR MAY
Eve Reiland of internationalbadassactivistssuggested a theme for #actuallyautistic people for May:#AutisticSpecialInterest – a theme I am more than happy to run with, so, starting tomorrow I will be producing posts dealing with my special interests through the month.
THE EFFECT THAT THE NEW BUSES HAVE ON MY WORK
Those who have read my blog recently will be aware that today was my first day travelling to work on the Lynxnumber 49, which has replaced the Stagecoach X29 route. It runs considerably less frequently, but the buses are comfortable, the staff are friendly, and at the moment it has a score of 1/1 for punctuality, which after Stagecoach feels near miraculous.
AN UPCOMING HOLIDAY
I will be off for a week in Greece, leaving King’s Lynn on Friday May 11th, late in the evening so as to get to Gatwick for the flight to Kalamata, which takes off at 5:40AM. Therefore I will accept that sleep ain’t happening that night, and spend a few hours waiting at the airport. I will arrive back in the early afternoon of Saturday May 19th. I will endeavour to keep up to date with everyone during that period, but there will almost certainly be days on which I do not manage to access the internet.
IMAGING FOR MAY’S AUCTIONS
In May we are having a one-day cigarette card auction, followed by two days of military badges (and these will be on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after I return from holiday). Here to finish things off are some images…